President Joe Biden spoke on Monday after the FDA announced that the Pfizer vaccine has been officially approved after a "thorough, independent, scientific review."
To those who haven't been vaccinated because it hasn't been approved, the "moment you have been waiting for is here," he said, and the time to get vaccinated is now.
He spoke about the "those who have been waiting for full approval should get their shot now."
"There's no time to waste," he said, noting that those who are unvaccinated are the ones who are getting sick and ended up hospitalized, and said that "breakthrough cases" are rare.
As schools are set to reopen this month, with more following in September, Biden said he knows that parents have concerns about their children's safety. "I'll be addressing this soon with Secretary Cardona," he said, "to discuss how we get our kids back to school safely."
"Cases among children are still rare," he said, and serious cases among children are "very, very rare." He said this is "not as reassuring as anyone would like it to be."
To parents, he said "as you have, you have the tools to keep your child safer, and two of those tools above all are available to you: one, make sure that everyone around your child who can be vaccinated, is vaccinated. Parents, adults, teens. Two, make sure your child is masked when they leave home. That's how we can best keep our kids safe."
He said again, as he's said before, "that the pandemic of the unvaccinated is preventable."
Biden spoke about vaccine requirements that have been imposed on federal workers, the armed forces, those who work in federal medical facilities such as Veterans Affairs, and federal nursing home workers.
There are additional incentives to get vaccinations, Biden said. "There are three facts that everyone should know about where we are in the fight against this pandemic," he said.
"First, even as the delta variant has ravaged the unvaccinated, and deaths have climbed, the death rate is still 70 percent lower than it was last winter. Why? Because we did such a good job vaccinating those most at risk: senior citizens."
He said vaccinations are up as well, and that "there have been 6 million shots in the last seven days." States that have been lagging, he said, are also seeing an increase in vaccination rates.
"Today," he said, "I'm calling on more companies in the private sector to step up with vaccine requirements that will reach millions more people. If you're a business leader, a non-profit leader, the state or local leader, who has been waiting for full FDA approval to require vaccinations, I call on you now to do it, require it. Do what I did that month, require your employees to get vaccinated or face strict requirements."
He said "vaccination requirements have been around for decades," noting that students, soldiers, and teachers have been required to be vaccinated.
The president took no questions from reporters eager to know about the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan as he left the podium.